The Role of Person-Centered Messages, Parallel Disclosures, and Reactance When Communicating Support for Parental Death

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This article evaluates communicative strategies to reduce reactance and enhance outcomes when people receive supportive messages about the death of their parent. Two experiments, a laboratory study and an online survey, manipulated person-centeredness and the presence and timing of parallel bereavement disclosures by the support provider. In both studies, moderately person-centered messages produced less reactance and better support quality, compared to low person-centered messages, and were perceived to be as effective as highly person-centered messages. The inclusion of support providers’ parallel disclosures produced different outcomes depending on person-centeredness and the timing of disclosures. A perceived threat to freedom and reactance serially mediated the associations between person-centered messages and outcomes, including emotional improvement, support quality, and source derogation, but not the interactive effects of parallel disclosures and person-centered messages on outcomes. The discussion highlights the challenges of communicating support for major life stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunication Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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